Happy Birthday B Reactor

September 26, 2004 - The Hanford Nuclear Site's B Reactor, the first full-scale production reactor and producer of the plutonium used in the world's first atomic explosion (Trinity Test in New Mexico, July 16, 1945) and the 2nd atomic bombing of Japan (the "Fat Man" bomb dropped on Nagasaki, August 9, 1945) celebrated a birthday Sunday, the anniversary of its first powering up sixty years ago in 1944. The Department of Energy (DOE) reactor, one of the major technological feats achieved by the Manhattan Project, produced plutonium for the US weapons program until 1968 has been preserved by the B Reactor Museum Association. Congress has passed a bill directing the National Park Service to study the feasibility of developing the B Reactor as a national historic but funding for study has not been appropriate and the fate of the effort remains in doubt. Some of the eight other Hanford nuclear reactors have already been cocooned. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the bill's sponsor said "Hanford B is a scientific battlefield that must be preserved so future generations may study a difficult time in American history, while recognizing the accomplishments of our Cold war veterans."

The B Reactor Museum Association is planning a series of public events October 8 and 9, including a dinner with speaker Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb. Tours of B Reactor are already full.

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